Anniversary Dinner

eggs for Garlic and Chicken SoupBack in September, while shopping at my go-to store, a sales associate who we’ve known for about a year inquired as to how long we’ve been married. Surprised at the answer, she remarked that we still regarded each other as newlyweds and would never have guessed that we’d been married so long. But it’s true! As of December 1 we were officially 13 years and counting, but apparently and happily so, not acting our age.

To commemorate our special day (as you can tell I’m a bit tardy getting this posted!) I wanted to honor my sweetie pie (sorry if this is making you gag) with one of his favorites- roast chicken. Not a week goes by that he doesn’t request it, especially since I’ve tweaked the recipe to taste bud perfection.  The secret is simple. Brine. Butter. Blast. The brine not only ensures a drippingly juicy bird, but it will penetrate deep into the meat to ensure it’s seasoned throughout, not just on the surface.  By buttering the outside and blasting it in a scorching hot oven, the skin turns a deep golden brown that is C-R-R-R-I-S-P-Y! I never ever went near chicken skin until this and now I blissfully risk 3rd degree burns going after it the minute the little birdie is out of the oven. Of course, there are a few other things along the way to pay attention to which I’ve noted in the recipe. And, yes, this is a soup blog not a roast chicken blog, but I feel kind of guilty and secretive not sharing something so unbelievably delicious. I promise your whole chicken world is about to change…and leftovers….M-O-I-S-T!….for days!

garlic for Garlic and Chicken SoupCertainly there are no shortages of perfect sides for your little beauty, but if you are looking for something a little special (maybe like for an anniversary) and out of the ordinary make Perigord Tourain while the chicken is in the oven. It’s a classic French garlic and chicken soup with a soothing lushness that makes your shoulders relax and your eyes close….an experience beyond taste that simply feels good. And although its origin is French, its easy preparation might mistake it for having American roots.  The main ingredient is chicken stock so be sure to use the best you can get your hands on, preferably homemade. It’s traditionally served (from what I read, not by experience…so sad) with bread which we found to be perfect for getting every last bit of the soup out of our bowls and into our mouths! Not to mention sopping up the chicken juices from the roasting pan…….

Perigord Tourain (Garlic and Chicken Soup)

Perigord Tourain (Garlic and Chicken Soup)

Slightly adapted from Tasting Table who adapted it from Sebastien Archambault, L’Epicerie, Los Angeles.

Don’t tell Chicken Noodle, but this soup may just be the next innovation in defending against cold & flu.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups homemade chicken stock
  • ¼ cup rendered duck fat
  • 10 garlic cloves thinly sliced (I make mine like matchsticks)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup egg whites (3-4 eggs depending on the size)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt (more or less depending on the saltiness of your stock)
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan until it reaches a simmer. Reduce and keep warm.
  2. Heat the garlic and duck fat in a large pan (I used a 6.75 qt Dutch oven) cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes until the garlic turns a golden brown. Stir frequently.
  3. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk constantly for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the warmed chicken stock, ladle by ladle, stirring to dissolve the flour.
  5. Add the salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil then aggressively simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to low, pour in the egg whites and stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes until they become white. They will look elegant and wispy when done.
  8. Taste for seasoning.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2014/05/11/anniversary-dinner/

Brine. Butter. Blast. Roast Chicken

Brine. Butter. Blast. Roast Chicken

A recipe is only as good as the ingredients, so don’t skimp when selecting your chicken. For obvious reasons go organic, but also make sure it’s been air chilled vs dunked in a disgusting chlorinated water bath. Do these two things (and Brine. Butter. Blast.) and you’re guaranteed to have a chickeny chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole organic chicken (4-5 lbs); air chilled if you can find it
  • 1 ½ cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 16 cups cold water
  • ½ TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning

Instructions

  1. In a 6 quart stock pot or large bowl, whisk the sugar and salt with cold water until they are dissolved.
  2. Place the chicken in the brine, breast side down. You may need to place a plate on the chicken to keep it submerged.
  3. Refrigerate for a minimum of 5 hours. I generally leave it in for 8 hours. I would not leave it overnight or the meat will get mushy.
  4. Two hours before you intend to roast the chicken, remove it from the brine, rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towel.
  5. Let the chicken come to room temperature for two hours (1 hour at the least).
  6. Preheat the oven to 450 or if using convection, 425.
  7. Rub the butter and oil over the chicken skin and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the lemon and garlic in the cavity of the chicken.
  8. Place the chicken on a simple sheet pan.
  9. Roast for 45-60 minutes until an instant read thermometer placed at the thigh joint reads 165. Remove from the oven and cover with foil for 20 minutes to allow the juices to be retained in the meat instead of running all over the carving board.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2014/05/11/anniversary-dinner/

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Say Cheese

peppers for chicken chili

I’d forgotten how unbelievably challenging it is to get back on track once you’ve fallen off the proverbial horse. Exercise, smoking, going to bed at a regular time…..or in this case blogging. Obviously I’ve been silent since October so not only did I come crashing down, I stayed firmly glued to the ground.  I’ve missed the writing tremendously. It’s strange, but it’s like having a conversation with myself where I actually connect with “me”. I find it so curious what pours (or sometimes trickles) out of my fingers.  The cooking I’ve continued to do without a break in the action….it’s the photography that keeps me from getting back in the saddle.  In November we moved into a new house, and although there was and continues to be a plethora of “new construction” issues to deal with I could have found time to post had I possessed the required motivation.  I simply found myself leaping at any excuse NOT to pick up the camera.

basil for Chicken ChiliTaking the pictures has got to be THE MOST ANNOYING part of the blogging process for me. Uh. Just the thought of it puts me in a sour mood and fills me with dread. Yes, I’m out of practice, but even when I’m fighting with the camera and chasing down natural light on a more routine basis, I still find this to be an exasperating exercise. I’m pretty good at rationalizing my perspective, but even I cannot devise an argument that supports a picture-free zone on a blog. Relaying my plight to P she offered that I was being too hard on myself and too basically stop stressing, snap a few pictures and be done with it. So, here goes…. Certainly my images were not perfect before, but I’m going to try a new relaxed approach that lets me get back to why I’m doing this in the first place. To enjoy myself. So I give you Chicken Chili with some supporting less-than-perfect photos that will hopefully entice you to make this lovely bean-less chili to ride out the winter chill.

roast chicken for chicken chili

It’s similar to traditional chili in that its flavor is grounded in chili powder and cumin, yet the roast chicken is an enticing alternative to beef and the exchange of basil for cilantro lends a bit of sophistication that is totally not expected when one considers chili. Make it a day ahead if you can so that the flavors have time to get to know each other. Top with lots of cheddar cheese!

Chicken Chili

Chicken Chili

Adapted from Ina Garten's Chicken Chili.

I think this would be divine with the addition of black beans....but due to my husband's lackluster impression of them AND the fact that this was his dinner for 3 evenings in a row....we left them out.

Ingredients

  • 3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing on the chicken
  • 4 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 3 1/2-4 lbs)
  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions (about 2 large)
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 TBSP tomato powder (or paste)
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 red peppers; cored, seeded and medium chopped
  • 2 yellow peppers; cored, seeded and medium chopped
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 28 oz cans of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh basil, minced
  • Toppings
  • Sour cream
  • Freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  1. Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Roast at 350 for approximately 50 minutes. When cool enough to handle remove the meat from the bone and skin and chop into bite-sized chunks. Reserve for later.
  2. In a large pot (I used a 6.75 Dutch oven) heat the olive oil over medium-low.
  3. Add the onions and sauté for 10-15 minutes until soft and translucent.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  5. Sprinkle in the spices (chili powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne, oregano, allspice and tomato powder), stir and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  6. Add the peppers and cook for 3 minutes.
  7. Pour in the tomatoes and their juices. Use a wooden spoon to break them up into smaller pieces.
  8. Add the salt and basil and bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
  10. Place the chicken in the pot and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
  11. Serve with your favorite toppings!
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2014/02/06/say-cheese/

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Pozole Verde

tomatillos for Pozole Verde

I am willing to bet that even if you have remote familiarity with hominy you probably haven’t cooked it, much less tasted it.  Personal experience aside, there is simply a lack of conversation on the topic. Recently “Pozole” has been lurking around the culinary edges, but it’s always a filler recipe, never the main event. For all I knew maybe there was a good reason….like tasting like a soggy tortilla! I suspect, however, that because it is a regional dish with an uncommon ingredient, it is simply passed over for it’s American cousin Chicken Noodle Soup. Pozole is a Mexican soup (or stew) anchored by corn (that’s the hominy, how uncommon is that?) that can be prepared white, red or green (ironically the colors of the Mexican flag) depending on the sauce or lack thereof.  As a sign of solidarity with my new home- ripe with vibrant south of the border influence- I decided to whip some up sooner than later.  I quickly learned this is not something you just “whip” up……..

hominy for Pozole Verde

As with most ingredients, I figured I should skip canned hominy and go straight for the “good stuff”…meaning the dried kernels to ensure a far more interesting texture and to get an actual corn flavor.  A quick two-second taste test had proved that the waxiness of the canned hominy would probably ruin just about any dish. Rancho Gordo (I know, again with Rancho Gordo…but for good reason, their products are superior) sells prepared hominy that all you need to do is soak, simmer and add to your soup.  Being a Pozole virgin, I scoured the internet for a recipe and ended up with flashbacks to those annoying third grade comprehension tests…which of the following does not belong?……there were throngs of chicken soup recipes that appeared to use an ingredient template that simply stated “insert hominy here” and then called it Pozole. The lack of authenticity was staggering, not to mention transparent even to a Pozole novice like myself. Yet, after playing detective and eliminating the counterfeits, I embarked on my interpretation of Patti Jinich’s Verde version and ….oh my goodness!

I mean, how has this soup not been given its due credit? It’s a powerhouse of flavor and incredibly rich without any heavy, oily fats. It’s light, but unbelievably satisfying because of the chicken and hominy. Sure it does take some time to make, but the commitment is well worth it.

Pozole Verde

Pozole Verde

Adapted from Patti Jinich.

Mexican oregano has a citrusy edge to it versus the peppery qualities most of us are used to in the Mediterranean oregano associated with Italian cooking. Find it at my favorite spice shop! By the way, the plethora of toppings are suggestions……don’t feel like you have to build a mountain of garnishes atop your soup.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried hominy
  • 3 lbs skin-on bone-in chicken breasts (about 3 large)
  • 2 quarts homemade chicken broth
  • Verde (Green) Sauce
  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed
  • 1 large jalapeño, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 large poblano
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 small white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 TBSP canola oil
  • 2 TBSP dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 cups roughly chopped cilantro
  • Toppings
  • Limes for squeezing
  • Radishes, thinly sliced
  • Romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
  • Avocado, cut into chunks
  • Ancho Chili powder, a pinch sprinkled over each bowl
  • Cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Scallions, thinly sliced
  • Tortilla chips, crushed
  • Sour cream dollops

Instructions

  1. Place hominy in a small stock pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Soak overnight.
  2. Drain the hominy and then return it to the pot and cover with water by 5 inches. Over high heat bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for 3 hours or until hominy is tender and has begun to open up or “bloom”. Season with 1 TBSP kosher salt and cool in the liquid.
  4. In the meantime, roast the chicken breasts. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with foil (for easy clean-up). Rub chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 45-55 minutes until the juices run clear (length of time will depend on the thickness of the breasts.) When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken and set aside.
  5. Next, position the oven rack on the highest groove and turn the broiler to HI. Place the poblano on the rack and roast for about 10 minutes, turning every few minutes in order to char all sides. It will become beautifully blistered with black flavor-packing blemishes. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let it cool completely, then peel off the skin and pull out the stem. Give it a rough chop and set aside.
  6. Meanwhile, make the verde sauce. Place tomatillos, garlic and jalapeño in a 4 quart saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  7. After about 10 minutes the color of the tomatillos will no longer be bright green, but dull. You want them to be soft but not falling apart. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid, drain and set aside.
  8. Place the pepitas in a small skillet (I used an 8”) over medium heat and toast for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until they have lightly browned.
  9. Place the toasted pepitas in a blender and chop until finely ground. Then add the tomatillo mixture, garlic, onion, roasted poblano, salt and reserved liquid. Puree until smooth.
  10. In a large pot (I used 6.75 qt Dutch oven) heat the oil over medium heat.
  11. Add the tomatillo sauce from the blender and simmer for 18-20 minutes, stirring the entire time. The goal is for the sauce to thicken and deepen in flavor. The color will become darker as the process occurs.
  12. Combine the cilantro, Mexican oregano and 1 cup of broth in the blender. Puree until smooth and mix into the verde sauce.
  13. To the pot, add the hominy, shredded chicken and chicken broth. Simmer partially covered for 20 minutes.
  14. Taste for seasonings.
  15. Serve with toppings.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/09/05/pozole-verde/

Note:

Tomatillos are tart, almost citrusy and should be firm to the touch when you buy them. The fruit is encased in a husk, which should NOT be dry and brittle when you take them home from the store. When you remove the husks you’ll find the tomatillos to be sticky- that’s normal. Just rinse under running water and dry with a paper towel.

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Chicken Soup to the Rescue

I wrote this post a few weeks ago while in the throes of unraveling a household and finding our way further south just to put it all back together again. On this day I had no internet, no hot water, no coffee and quickly no patience.  I was lamenting the irksome nature of the day as well as the impending loss of a sweetly familiar life when I found myself midst a brief pity party that included tear brimmed eyes right smack in front of the service team sent to rescue me. Following the sprinkle I spotted two lonely quarts of broth in the freezer and instantly felt comforted by the idea of chicken soup. With my husband en route in less than 24 hours, I was expecting a weary traveler most likely looking for some comfort himself.

It felt right that our last homemade meal in Carolina be a homey pot of chicken soup. Beyond the “comfort food” status it shares with its cousins mac ‘n’ cheese, fried chicken and for some (not me!) meatloaf, soup is a bridge….stay with me….really, it’s a bridge that links two unique states of existence. Certainly liquid cannot be mistaken for its more firm counterpart, yet both are enticing and satisfying in ways the other cannot possibly be.

Our Raleigh home has sold and in a few short days my family and I will be rolling west down route 20. Deep in my gut a little boxing match has erupted between Ms. Excited and Ms. Melancholy, with Ms. Anxiety masquerading as ringmaster. Of course, none of them will prevail as life’s opportunities, surprises and disappointments usually put us on the proverbial emotional rollercoaster. The key is to embrace our emotional contradictions and allow them to energize us and propel us forward.  To cross the bridge……which for us meant somewhere between our first spoonful and the bottom of the bowl we said goodbye to NC and hello to TX.

Ginger Chicken Soup with Baby Bok Choy

Ginger Chicken Soup with Baby Bok Choy

If your spices aren’t fresh your soup will be flat. Same goes for the lemongrass. It should be fragrant with an attractive yellow-green hue versus brown and brittle. Our cupboards were bare so a fresh baguette was the only addition to our menu….turns out it was enough.

Ingredients

  • 3 TBSP organic unrefined virgin coconut oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 large)
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, diced (including seeds)
  • 1 lb baby bok choy, roughly chop greens, core, quarter and chop white ends; keep separated
  • 4 stalks fresh lemongrass
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 2 TBSP ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 quarts homemade chicken broth
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 TBSP freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Scallions for serving
  • Cilantro for serving

Instructions

  1. To prepare the lemongrass remove the bulb and tough outer leaves. Cut the fragrant yellow stalks into 2” pieces then bend each one back and forth in order to gently bruise and release flavor.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a Dutch oven (I used a 6.75 quart) over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the yellow pepper, jalapeño, bok choy stems and lemongrass and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Once it begins to simmer reduce the heat to low, just enough to maintain a gentle bubble and add the shredded chicken and salt. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is warmed through.
  6. Stir in chopped bok choy greens, lime juice and cook for 2-3 minutes until wilted.
  7. Remove the lemongrass and serve with chopped scallions and cilantro.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/07/11/chicken-soup-to-the-rescue/

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Stock Up

When it comes to making chicken broth one size does NOT fit all. So relax, you don’t have to buy 15 pounds of chicken and work your biceps in preparation to manhandle a 20 quart stock pot. How you go about it depends on how much time you have, what flavor you want and sometimes just the type of mood you are in. Take rotisserie chicken stock, its fast (you’re in and out in two hours), delivers a rich, meaty brown stock and because only the carcass need apply all that juicy meat can be used for another dish. However, if you’re striving for a delicate broth that is more chickeny and less meaty AND you want to stock up, make this.

For you Goldilocks types, there is also an in-between that will be just right. Small batch homemade broth is done in less time than it takes to watch a Lifetime movie and yields two quarts of clear golden chicken broth. Certainly you can use it for soup (that was the point), but I say play sick and lay dibs to its delectable pureness….bowl after bowl until you are full feeling better.

Small-Batch Homemade Chicken Broth

Ingredients

  • 1 whole organic chicken (3-5 depending on size), no giblets
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1” chunks
  • 2 celery stalks chopped into 1” chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 head of garlic, a few outer layers removed and cut in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 parsley sprigs
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns

Instructions

  1. Place your chicken in a 5-6 quart stock pot and set on the stove.
  2. Add just enough filtered water to cover the chicken by about 2 inches.
  3. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer. Resist the urge to bring the water to a boil as it will make your broth cloudy. Religiously skim off the foam that forms on the top. Its impurities and congealed protein that will adversely affect flavor and clarity.
  4. Meanwhile, prep your aromatics (vegetables and herbs) and place them together in a large bowl.
  5. After 30 minutes of simmering most of the gray foam will have subsided.
  6. Add the aromatics, salt and peppercorns. Lightly press them into the water, but do not stir (doing so will make a cloudy broth).
  7. Turn to medium-low and maintain a gentle simmer for 90 minutes, uncovered. Do not stir.
  8. Remove from heat, strain and discard the solids. I prefer to spoon out the solids with a fine mesh ladle so as not to mix everything together and make the stock cloudy. This, however, is NOT essential and won’t affect flavor.
  9. Cool and refrigerate overnight and in the morning skim off any fat that has congealed on the surface. I’m a bit fanatical about this and like to use a fat separator as well. Who likes greasy stock?!
  10. Use within 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.
  11. Yields 2 quarts.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/06/13/stock-up/

 

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Chicken Soup for the Soul…and Sanity

When I’m feeling out of control or in an uncomfortable situation, I tend to cook to cope. This isn’t surprising as food is an ageless medium to express emotions and manage situations. To celebrate, honor, negotiate we eat. Not to mention, to nurture, grieve, mend we cook. You get it.

Months ago I spent a few days sans husband with my in-laws, and so you understand the gravity of this statement, this is not common practice in our relationship. We go in pairs. Please refer to your imagination for a complete explanation. My husband’s mother is fiercely independent so overtures to assist her are always coolly rebuffed. Until now. She had surgery and accepted an offer from me to come to NY and “visit” for a few days while she recovers. It was only natural- for her sake and mine- that I should make a pot of chicken soup.  I encountered a dilemma though because the other non-cooking chores interfered with the preparation of homemade stock. I know it’s extreme, but since I started making my own stock I’d almost rather go without soup (gasp) than use store bought. I did a few searches and discovered a Cooks Illustrated recipe that promised a rich soup in 90 minutes without the aid of canned broths or bouillon cubes. Wow! The broth was so rich and complex had I not divulged that homemade stock was not an ingredient no one would have been the wiser. So, yes, I highly recommend making this in pinch. It will taste like you devoted hours of love to it and I promise to keep your secret!

Like most soups we enjoyed this the next day for lunch when it proved to be even better. As for me, a few days….. and a few meals later…….. I left with my sanity intact and some unexpected sweet memories.

Shortcut Chicken Noodle Soup

Shortcut Chicken Noodle Soup

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup.

Ingredients

  • 3 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 4 lb chicken, breasts removed and the remaining chopped into 2” pieces (you can ask your butcher to do this)
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 head of garlic cut in half crosswise
  • 2 quarts boiling water
  • ¾ cup white wine, divided
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A few springs each of 3 types of herbs (I like thyme, dill and tarragon, but use what you have)
  • 1 cup carrots (about 2-4), peeled, small dice
  • 1 cup celery (about 2 stalks), small dice
  • 1 medium zucchini, small dice
  • 4 ounces egg noodles
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Dry chicken breasts and pieces with a paper towel.
  2. Heat 2 TBSP of oil in Dutch oven (I use 6.75 quart) over medium-high heat; when the oil shimmers (about 5-7 minutes) add chicken breasts and sauté until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. When cool enough to handle remove the skin.
  3. Add the remaining chicken and sauté 10 minutes; flip half way through. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add onions and sauté until slightly soft and golden, about 5 minutes.
  5. Deglaze the pot with about ¼ cup of white wine scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to get all the delicious brown bits off and into your stock.
  6. Return chicken pieces (excluding breasts) to the pot and reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Increase heat to high; add boiling water, ½ cup of white wine, herb trio, garlic, chicken breasts, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp peppercorns and bay leaves. Return to simmer, cover and gently simmer until chicken breasts are cooked and broth is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes.
  8. Remove chicken breasts and when cool enough to handle shred the meat from the bone into bite sized pieces.
  9. Strain broth and discard all the solids.
  10. Add 1 TBSP of oil to the pot and sauté the carrot, celery and zucchini on medium-high heat until softened (about 5 minutes).
  11. Add broth, chicken, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper and simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors meld, 10 to 15 minutes.
  12. Add noodles and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.
  13. Taste for seasoning, stir in parsley, and serve.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/03/28/chicken-soup-for-the-soul-and-sanity/

Notes:

  1. For the chicken not to stick to the pan, your oil must be HOT not warm.
  2. To remove excess fat, I strained the broth through a fat separator. This isn’t critical, but I think it makes for a cleaner tasting soup.
  3. If you don’t intend to enjoy all of the soup in one seating, cook the noodles separately and add as needed, otherwise, they will absorb all the broth.
  4. I neglected to break my noodles up before adding them to the soup. This colossal oversight caused them to slip off my spoon and drop into the bowl like big, wet messy cannonballs. Consider yourself warned.

 

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Chicken “Stuff”

Fond memories of my mother’s ex-husband are hard to come by, but as a byproduct of his Italian heritage he was passionate about food. He reveled in the pure pleasure of it and was always eager to share….to enlighten. These journeys culminated in uncomplicated dishes. Comprised of a few seasonal ingredients that allowed the uniqueness of each component to be truly noticed and savored. This inclination to cooking was no doubt influenced by his mother who bestowed upon us “Chicken Stuff”. A creamy, stew-like soup laden with celery and wonderfully shredded roast chicken. Quickly, it became part of our weekly dinner rotation and then….forgotten. College, marriage, mom’s sayonara to #3 and a simply crazed pace that characterizes so many of our lives had all but banished it from my memory (that and probably a subconscious desire to keep #3 at the proverbial curb we so happily kicked him to!).

This blog will all be worth it if for only rediscovering this family favorite. My husband loves chicken AND celery, so accolades were only a pot of soup away….until it seemed the recipe slipped away with the divorce papers. Beyond chicken, celery, stew-like and the well-used name “Chicken Stuff” I had no other details and after a frenzied search, my mother couldn’t come up with the recipe. This left me no choice but to create my personalized version.  A few iterations later we got a winner! I’ve also renamed it Tarragon Celery Soup with Chicken and Rice. However, as appealing as the updated name is, in my jewel box of private memories, it will forever remain “Chicken Stuff”.

P.S. The husband thinks it would benefit from a few mushrooms. Reluctantly, I must agree….if you like mushrooms.

Tarragon Celery Soup with Chicken and Rice

Tarragon Celery Soup with Chicken and Rice

This soup is gets it’s pizzazz from the interplay of the herbs and dry vermouth- a fortified white wine with sublime botanical, herbal characteristics. As sophisticated as the flavors are it remains a deeply satisfying comfort food.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick and 1 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 cups shredded chicken from 2-3 large bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 10 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 5 cups celery, diced (about 13 stalks)
  • 2 cups yellow onion, medium chop (about 1 large)
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
  • 3 TBSP ground dried porcini mushrooms
  • 8 TBSP flour
  • 1 ½ cup Arborio rice
  • 2 TBSP each of freshly chopped thyme, parsley
  • 3 TBSP freshly chopped tarragon
  • Pecorino Romano for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with foil (for easy clean-up).
  2. Rub chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 45-60 minutes until the juices run clear (length of time will depend on the thickness of the breasts.) When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken and set aside.
  3. In a large sauce pan, heat the chicken stock until hot and keep it so. Do not boil.
  4. While the chicken roasts, over medium heat melt 1 TBSP butter and 2 TBSP olive oil in a Dutch oven (I use a 9 quart). Add the onions and saute for 8-10 minutes until soft and translucent.
  5. Add the celery, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in the garlic and mushroom powder and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute.
  7. Add 1 stick of butter and stir until melted.
  8. Stir in flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until no raw flour smell remains.
  9. Turn off the heat and stir in ¼ cup of hot stock. Repeat 3 more times being sure to scrape any flour mixture that collects on the bottom and sides of the pot.
  10. Return heat to medium and stir in the remaining stock.
  11. Bring to a simmer.
  12. Add the rice and cook for 15 minutes; stir frequently.
  13. Reduce to low and add the chicken, vermouth, salt, pepper, herbs and half and half.
  14. Reheat for 10 minutes.
  15. Taste for seasonings.
  16. Serve with freshly grated Pecorino Romano.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/01/30/chicken-stuff/

Note:

Grind the dried mushrooms in a coffee grinder. Simply clean out the coffee grounds first by grinding some dried white rice and wiping it out with a paper towel. Recleanse after preparing the mushrooms.

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Fiesta!

The occasion? A celebration of happiness.  Actually of owning one’s happiness. Seriously, how many times, years even, have you listened as your closest friend waxed on and on about a lousy job, an unfulfilling relationship, weight struggles, their ex, etc. Of course as a good friend you listen and we do so with everlasting compassion that is free of judgment…or at least we strive to.  Every once in awhile though we’re uplifted, maybe even motivated, when they find the courage to transform their reality. Recently my good friend did just that. After more than a decade in a difficult marriage she’s going her own way and I couldn’t be more impressed with her resolution to create a life where she can thrive while still handling the situation with grace and humanity.

She was rarely able to indulge her fondness for Mexican, so I invited her for dinner and surprised her with traditional favorites. Salty margaritas (absolutely NOT from a mix!) and guacamole kicked things off, along with a little salsa music to make it feel like party, albeit for two. Next we devoured muy grande bowls of Mexican Chicken Soup decorated with colorful bites of avocado, tomato, crushed yellow corn chips, cheese and a dollop of snow white sour cream crowned with cilantro. I actually think the soup is an excuse to binge on the toppings….over and over again until you hit bottom.

Dessert was a seasonally appropriate Mexican Hot Chocolate that I’ve now made for 5 nights straight. Why? Because it calls to me in its spicy, somewhat smoky voice…….leaving me defenseless to resist……this is a problem. My friend’s future though is not. Every day might not be a fiesta, but it belongs to her.

Mexican Chicken Soup

Mexican Chicken Soup

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa At Home.

This soup is unbelievably flavorful and casts an intoxicating aroma…you won’t need to ring the dinner bell! It’s also a main course. Just add guacamole and margaritas.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken)
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups yellow onion, medium chop (about 1 large)
  • 1 cup celery, medium chop (about 2 stalks)
  • 2 cups carrot, medium chop (4-8 carrots)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ½ quarts of homemade rotisserie chicken stock
  • 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 6 (6-inch) flour tortillas
  • 15 oz can of black beans (no salt added), rinsed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Toppings
  • Avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Freshly grated Cheddar cheese
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Fresh chopped tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Pull and shred the meat from the rotisserie chicken. Set aside.
  2. Make homemade rotisserie stock using the leftover carcass; this will take about 2 hours so plan ahead. You might need to supplement your stock with an extra cup or two of broth or water. In a pinch I use Better Than Bouillon.
  3. In a Dutch oven (I use a 6.75 quart) heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Add the garlic in the final minute.
  4. Meanwhile place the tomatoes and their juices in a large bowl and crush them using your hands. Add the cumin, coriander, jalapenos, 1 TBSP salt, 1 tsp pepper and cilantro. If you are using store bought chicken broth start with only 1 tsp of salt and check for seasoning. Stir together.
  5. Add the tomato mixture and stock to the vegetables and increase the heat.
  6. Cut the tortilla’s in half and then into 1/2” strips. Add them to the soup.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Add the beans and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  9. Add the chicken and slowly reheat (about 5 minutes).
  10. Taste for seasonings.
  11. Serve with TOPPINGS!!!!
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2012/11/30/fiesta/

Note: I like this soup spicy, but if that is not your preference simply seed and core the jalapenos.

 

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Pumpkin Turkey Chowder

I’m sucker for anything pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin latte, pumpkin scones, heck, I’ve even made a funky pumpkin macaroni and cheese, although I’ll concede that I was the only one left licking my lips. This weakness may have something to do with the fact that my Aunt Emlyn still calls me “Pumpkin” or “Punkin” for short. It’s a treasured interchange that harkens to my childhood where Auntie Em (as I called her then….dah….maybe that’s why I never miss a broadcast Wizard of Oz) played sentinel, ready to cover me with a blanket of comfort and refuge when I needed it most. Or maybe it’s that I seem to be forever enchanted with fall and there couldn’t be a more appropriate symbol than The Great Pumpkin. Blazing foliage, crisp air and crunchy leaves, root vegetables, mulled cider, visions of Halloween and anticipation of Thanksgiving….I’d like to just melt into it all!

Years ago I found a pretty terrific recipe for a Chicken Pumpkin Chowder in the strangest place- a flyer from our car insurance company. Considering the source, other skeptical souls may have disregarded it, but at the first sighting of “pumpkin” I plunged in! And we are glad I did. It’s loaded with homey ingredients and reminds you of something your grandmother would make for an after-school snack on a blustery day. Better yet I could whip it up after work without much to-do. Sometime around the beginning of October this favorite started to creep into my mind, pleading to be made and truth be told I felt a bit guilty for neglecting it…..and cheating on it with all those other soups!

My atonement? Transform Thanksgiving leftovers into Pumpkin Turkey Chowder! Yes! Perfect! Better start making turkey stock! Do we have any bacon? Sausage? What about gruyere? My mind started swirling with excitement, although it could have been that extra glass of rosé with dinner. I was bombarded with delectable trails of bread crumbs enticing me to take the chowder in this direction and that direction or maybe even around the corner…….In the end I resolved to present my family with traditional tastes of the Thanksgiving table. I just didn’t want to leave Thanksgiving behind so quickly. If we could linger in a bowl of this festive soup, perhaps we could linger in the moment as well. It’s a small way we can keep the holiday embrace with us as we enter the work week and go our separate ways…reclaimed by the responsibilities of life.  So tonight, I’ll drift off nourished, in body and soul, thankful for a beautiful life filled with love, and of course, thinking of my majestic pumpkin….I will follow you wherever you may lead…….

Pumpkin Turkey Chowder

Pumpkin Turkey Chowder

Serve with fried sage leaves. PERIOD.

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups onion, small dice (1 large)
  • 12 oz sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, medium chop
  • 3 cups shredded turkey
  • 16 oz frozen sweet corn, thawed
  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 2 cups homemade turkey stock
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups of half and half
  • Freshly grated gruyere for serving.
  • Fried sage leaves for serving (recipe follows).

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven (I use 6.75 quart) over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook for about 5 minutes until no pink remains and it is browned. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
  2. Deglaze the pot with a few splashes of chicken broth.
  3. Add the butter and onions and sauté until tender and translucent (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add the corn, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir a few times.
  5. Add the pumpkin puree, potatoes, stock, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Stir to loosen up the pumpkin.
  6. Bring to a simmer.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook at a gentle simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  8. Return the sausage to the pot, along with the turkey and half and half.
  9. Slowly reheat (about 5-10 minutes). Do not bring to a boil or the dairy will curdle.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2012/11/23/pumpkin-turkey-chowder/

Fried Sage Leaves

Great with cocktails. Unique and so easy.

Ingredients

  • Large sage leaves (stems attached)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Panko
  • Olive oil
  • Maldon sea salt

Instructions

  1. In a small skillet, heat about 1/2 inch oil over medium-high heat until hot. Test to see if the oil is hot enough by dropping a few Panko crumbs in to see if they sizzle.
  2. Dip clean, dry sage leaves in egg.
  3. Coat them in Panko.
  4. Slip a few leaves (don’t crowd them) at a time into the oil and fry for 3-5 seconds per side using tongs to flip. Watch carefully as they become golden very quickly!
  5. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and while they are still hot sprinkle “generously” with sea salt.
  6. Best served hot.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2012/11/23/pumpkin-turkey-chowder/

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Kitchen Magic

I shudder to think of chickens gone by, good meals bridled and Thanksgiving turkeys passed over, all because of pure kitchen negligence. Why, for years, did I not make my own stocks? Especially when I found myself with a 20 lb turkey carcass or remnant bones from a roast chicken. I’ve stared into the deep, dark recesses of my mind (found a few cobwebs along the way) searching for a precise, logical answer. Even after running through the standard excuses of time, ignorance and exhaustion I still can’t string together a sentence that justifies this careless behavior. So…I’ve decided that I will have to go with indifference.  As painful as it is to acknowledge….that must be it. For the record, I don’t know who this woman is, so I am trying to understand her from afar and interpret her bad behavior. “She” simply must have thought there was no benefit to this extra step.

“Step” being a MAMMOTH exaggeration.  Making stock doesn’t really count as cooking…it’s more like magic. You don’t do anything except throw some things in big pot, cover them with water, wait a few hours and you are rewarded with a rich, deeply flavored potion (I mean broth) that is practically a meal on its own. It will elevate every dish you prepare, from soup to risotto, gravy, braised greens- anything you use chicken stock for. Think of it as fairy dust. I promise that whoever you are, whatever your skill in the kitchen, your personal culinary rating will shoot up a few stars if you make your own stock.

Before your very eyes the water will turn from clear to a beautiful golden brown….kitchen magic. Without fail, we stand over a fresh batch, spoons in hand, slurping it up while nodding our heads in agreement and rolling our eyes as if to proclaim “we believe” “we believe”!!!

A few crucial tips:

  1. Don’t be tempted to use the shriveled up carrots stashed in the back of the crisper. If your ingredients aren’t fresh enough to eat, they won’t make a good stock. There will be no magic happenin’ in your kitchen.
  2. Use as little water as possible. The goal is to concentrate flavors.
  3. Simmer. Never boil. Boiling will mix the fat, protiens and impurities into the stock and compromise its clarity.
  4. Skim. When bringing the water to a simmer you will probably notice a foam (less with a rotisserie chicken). Its protein and impurities. Skim it off for a clear stock.
  5. Don’t stir. Once you reach a simmer resist the urge to move things around in the pot; doing so will make your stock cloudy.
  6. The more (and stronger) aromatics (vegetables and herbs) you use the less “chickeny” your stock will taste. Save the rosemary for your polenta!

Rotisserie Chicken Stock

Lucky for us, most groceries offer fresh rotisserie chickens. The slow bake roasts the bones, concentrating their flavors and creating the perfect foil for a rich homemade chicken stock that comes together in half the time as a normal stock.

Ingredients

  • 1 rotisserie chicken carcass, whole
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1” chunks
  • 2 celery stalks chopped into 1” chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 head of garlic, a few outer layers removed and cut in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 parsley sprigs
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 1 tsp peppercorns

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot (5-6 quart).
  2. Add just enough filtered water to cover the carcass (1-2” above the bones).
  3. Bring to a simmer, skimming off any foam that forms.
  4. Maintain a low, gentle simmer for 2 hours. Do not stir.
  5. Strain the stock through a colander and discard the solids.
  6. Cool and refrigerate the stock overnight.
  7. Skim off any fat that has solidified.
  8. Use within 3 days or freeze for 3 months.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2012/10/11/kitchen-magic/

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